Abortion activists frequently argue that abortion should be a private “choice” between a woman and her doctor. But when millions of taxpayers are forced to pay for that choice – one that results in the destruction of a human life – abortion becomes a public issue in an unmistakable way.
On May 28, President Joe Biden released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2022. His $6 trillion plan made headlines for what it included as much as for what it omitted – namely, the Hyde Amendment. The amendment, a budget rider that prohibits federal funding for abortion and is responsible for saving millions of lives, wasn’t mentioned once. But polling shows that a majority of Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortion.
While abortion activists criticize Biden for avoiding the word “abortion,” he is continuously proving to be their ally.
This latest move marks a turning point for Biden, who once supported the Hyde Amendment. For decades, he voted against abortion and for Hyde. But he noticeably flipped on the issue as he prepared for the 2020 election and ran on the Democratic Party platform that called to “repeal the Hyde Amendment.” In 2019, Biden condemned Hyde – the day after he reaffirmed his support for it.
First introduced in 1976 by Representative Henry Hyde from Illinois, the Hyde Amendment bans federal funding – taxpayer dollars – from going towards abortion, with the exceptions of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. The legislative provision, approved annually by Congress, largely impacts Medicaid recipients.
“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” Biden reasoned when he switched his position.
But poll after poll finds that Americans feel differently. While a majority of Americans identify as “pro-choice,” nearly six in ten Americans oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion, according to a Knights of Columbus/Marist poll published earlier this year. That includes a “majority of independents (65%) and a notable proportion of Democrats (31%)” who oppose taxpayer funding.
As Rebecca Downs previously reported for Townhall.com, “when respondents are accurately informed that the debate is over taxpayers funding elective abortions,” they express support for Hyde.
The amendment makes a difference: Millions are alive today because of Hyde. According to Dr. Michael New at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, Hyde has saved more than 2.4 million lives.
But in response to Biden’s budget, abortion supporters made Hyde about something very different.
“President Biden’s budget, which proposes ending the Hyde Amendment, is a historic step in the fight for reproductive freedom,” Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson praised in a statement.
This was about a “personal health care decision,” the head of the nation’s largest abortion provider said.
“For far too long, the Hyde Amendment has put the government in control of a personal health care decision for many people with low incomes,” she added.
According to her, Planned Parenthood and the Biden administration were partners in this: “We will keep working with the administration and Congress to end the Hyde Amendment and all other abortion restrictions.”
For their part, Planned Parenthood and abortion activists argue that Hyde is a racist policy that targets low-income women of color because these women are more likely to be insured through Medicaid. And yet, they don’t say, Medicaid is a cooperative program between federal and state governments – so states can still choose to fund abortions on their own.
One thing is clear: African-American women tend to obtain proportionately more abortions. A CDC report released last year compiled data from 31 areas that reported race/ethnicity data for 2018. It found that “non-Hispanic White women and non-Hispanic Black women accounted for the largest percentages of all abortions (38.7 percent and 33.6 percent, respectively),” while “non-Hispanic Black women” had the highest abortion rate and ratio. But, at the same time, African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population.
Instead of pointing to abortion as the quick and easy solution to unplanned pregnancies, pro-life advocates call for a support system for pregnant women and new moms by focusing on the more complex questions of how to provide better health care, prenatal care, housing, and childcare options – services which many pregnancy centers provide for free.
In other words, this isn’t about a “personal choice” or “controlling women’s bodies and freedom” to the pro-life movement. This is about something else: forcing someone who recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every human person – from the moment of conception – to violate his or her conscience. It’s about being complicit in the intentional destruction of innocent human life.